A call was received from Gwent Police at 00:35 on Thurs 2nd May, for a party of two, who were 2.5hrs over due on an Ogof Draenen round trip. A major complexity was that one of the missing party was a Type 1 insulin dependant diabetic

At round 02:00 the surface controllers received a call from one of the missing party who was still underground. He was able to use the bat hole in the rescue entrance (The Chapel end of The Nunnery) to get a mobile signal! We were informed that they had failed to find their way upstream through the 2nd boulder choke in the main streamway and due to diabetic problem his partner was waiting it out in the main streamway, whilst he'd reversed the round trip to get help. The caller was then going to make his own way back round to the entrance. This information meant that we were no longer doing a wide search and could deploy directly to our casualty at a known location.

A party of 5 were dispatched at 02:30 to locate the casualty. He was found just below the 2nd boulder choke in a survival bag and in good spirits at 03:10. The new news was that he was hyperglycaemic (not hypo) after his insulin pump had become disconnected. The casualty's own blood sugar tester gave a reading in the low 20s. A runner was dispatched to communicate this to the surface and the decision was made to escort the casualty out of the cave as quickly as reasonably possible. Good progress was made, but the casualty was clearly suffering. At 04:00 the casualty was able to self administer some insulin liberated from his insulin pump using a syringe that we'd taken underground. A further blood sugar test at Cairn Junction was 'off the scale' (30+) and we were definitely up against it.

A fresh team was sent in to locate the 2nd member of the party, who had not yet reached the entrance series despite it being nearly 3hrs since the call from The Chapel. The casualty reached the surface at 05:20 and was passed to an ambulance crew at 05:30. The 2nd member of the party was located in White Arch Passage and reached the surface at 06:00. All team member left the site by 06:30.

Despite the time of night and the associated call out problems, the team did an excellent job on an incident that could easily have become much more serious.

Ali Garman
Chairman - SMWCRT